Sunday, January 02, 2011

Yet another example of the counter-intiutive effect of more contraception

HT: Big Blue Wave

Trends in the use of contraceptive methods and voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the Spanish population during 1997-2007:

BACKGROUND: This study was designed to acquire information about the use of contraceptive methods in order to reduce the number of elective abortions.

STUDY DESIGN: Since 1997, representative samples of Spanish women of childbearing potential (15-49 years) have been surveyed by the Daphne Team every 2 years to gather data of contraceptive methods used.

RESULTS: During the study period, 1997 to 2007, the overall use of contraceptive methods increased from 49.1% to 79.9%. The most commonly used method was the condom (an increase from 21% to 38.8%), followed by the pill (an increase from 14.2% to 20.3%). Female sterilization and IUDs decreased slightly and were used by less than 5% of women in 2007. The elective abortion rate increased from 5.52 to 11.49 per 1000 women.

CONCLUSIONS: The factors responsible for the increased rate of elective abortion need further investigation.

In plain English: The more women who used contraception, the more women also resorted to abortion. Researchers scratched their heads in bewilderment, likely because they don't understand risk compensation. If you reduce the perceived risks of a behavior, people will compensate by behaving in higher-risk ways.

I'll give you a few examples from non-sexual activities:

  • Risk Compensation: How Dangerous Do You Like It?
  • The Balance of Risk
  • Protective Gear and Risk Compensation

    Both Christopher Tietze and Kristin Luker (STRONGLY pro-choice researchers) noted this risk compensation phenomenon with relation to contraception and abortion half a century ago. But the Pill Pushers have chosen to ignore the data, and the reality of how human beings work. The more you create an environment in which people perceive sex as low-risk, the more people will engage in risky sex.

    This isn't rocket science. Why is it so hard for Pill Pushers to comprehend?

    Part of it may be the belief, common on the political Left, that human nature is malleable. (See this excellent Zombietime essay on political thought.)

    But I think in large part it's Planned Parenthood and other organizations that make money from sexual activity feeding misinformation to well-meaning citizens in order to increase their own bottom line -- in other words, the Shirky Principle at work. Organizations and institutions tend to perpetuate the problems that they're created to solve, purely as a means of self-preservation.
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